The Yellowstone-Snake River Plain seismic profiling experiment: Crustal structure of the Eastern Snake River Plain

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 



Seismic refraction profiles recorded along the eastern Snake River Plain (ESRP) in southeastern Idaho during the 1978 Yellowstone-Snake River Plain cooperative seismic profiling experiment are interpreted to infer the crustal velocity and attenuation (Q-1) structure of the ESRP. Travel-time and synthetic seismogram modeling of a 250 km reversed refraction profile as well as a 100 km detailed profile indicate that the crust of the ESRP is highly anomalous. Approximately 3 to 6 km of volcanic rocks (with some interbedded sediments) overlie an upper-crustal layer (compressional velocity ≅6.1 km/s) which thins southwestward along the ESRP from a thickness of 10 km near Island Park Caldera to 2 to 3 km beneath the central and southwestern portions of the ESRP. An intermediate-velocity (≅6.5 km/s) layer extends from ≅10 to ≅20 km depth. A thick (≅22 km) lower crust of compressional velocity 6.8 km/s, a total crustal thickness of ≅42 km, and a Pnvelocity of ≅7.9 km/s is observed in the ESRP, similar to the western Snake River Plain and the Rocky Mountains Provinces. High attenuation is evident on the amplitude corrected seismic data due to low-Q values in the volcanic rocks (Qp = 20 to 200) and throughout the crust (Qp = 160 to 300). Based on these characteristics of the crustal structure and volcanic-age progression data, it is suggested that the ESRP has resulted from an intensive period of intrusion of mantle-derived basaltic magma into the upper crust generating explosive silicic volcanism and associated regional uplift and caldera collapse. This activity began about 15 m.y. ago in southwestern Idaho and has migrated northeast to its present position at Yellowstone. Subsequent cooling of the intruded upper crust results in the 6.5 km/s velocity intermediate layer. Crustal subsidence and periodic basaltic volcanism as represented by the ESRP complete the sequence of crustal evolution.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The Yellowstone-Snake River Plain seismic profiling experiment: Crustal structure of the Eastern Snake River Plain
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/JB087iB04p02597
Volume 87
Issue B4
Year Published 1982
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Description 13 p.
First page 2597
Last page 2609
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